Hokkaido, the northernmost island in the Japanese archipelago, is very cold and snowy in the winter, with an average temperature of minus 3.1 degrees Celsius (26.4 degrees Fahrenheit) in the coldest month. In the summer, though, the average temperature is 22.3 degrees C (72.14 degrees F), making it a very pleasant place to spend the hottest months of the year.
It has a population of about 5.3 million, and the biggest city is Sapporo. The island is linked with Honshu - Japan's main island - by the 54-kilometer (34-mile) Seikan tunnel.
Large-scale dry-field farming is carried out on Hokkaido's wide tracts. Primary crops include potatoes and onions. Dairy farming also flourishes, and Hokkaido farmers supply items like milk and butter to all parts of Japan.
Another thriving sector is fishing. Some of the world's most important fishing grounds are found off Hokkaido. Marine products, such as scallops and konbu (kelp) are commercially cultivated.
Mountains, lakes, and other features make Hokkaido a place of great natural beauty. It attracts many tourists in the summer and skiers in winter.
Photo:Hokkaido Prefectural Government